A federal court ruling on Friday issued some clarity to the controversial use of federal law enforcement officers in response to destructive protests in Portland, Oregon.
For Democrats, it amounted to a defeat, with a federal judge denying a request from Oregon’s attorney general to stop federal agents from making certain arrests, as reported by The Hill.
“Individual rights to freedom of speech and assembly”
The case landed before Judge Michael Mosman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush. Given the partisan nature of the issue, it is possible that the decision would have gone the other way if overseen by an Obama or Clinton appointee.
In fact, a federal judge appointed by President Barack Obama ruled against the Trump administration in a similar case on Thursday, according to The Hill.
Of course, the White House maintains that it has the authority to deploy federal agents in response to protesters and rioters threatening to destroy federal property in Portland.
“Oregonians, like all Americans, have individual rights to freedom of speech and assembly, conferred by the First Amendment,” Mosman clarified in his decision. “They can, and often do, bring individual lawsuits to vindicate those rights.”
He went on to assert that the state “has not explained why this case is different, why the chilled speech it alleges here injures the state in a way that is distinct from the individual harms that it also alleges.”
“Dozens, if not hundreds, of federal troops”
The decision comes as a blow to leaders — including Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler — who have spoken out against the arrival of federal officers.
“The president has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect,” Wheeler said earlier this month. “What’s happening here is we have dozens, if not hundreds, of federal troops descending upon our city and what they’re doing is they are sharply escalating the situation.”
His support for the protesters even included participating in a recent demonstration during which he was tear-gassed by law enforcement.
Nevertheless, Wheeler was jeered and booed by a number of protesters for not going far enough to remove federal officers from the city’s streets.
As activists continue to call for defunded police departments, many Americans agree with the Trump administration’s position that a federal response is needed to address the current crisis.